- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Her one-hour talk, “Meloid Parasites of Solitary Bees,” begins at 9:30 a.m. The Nor Cal Entomology Society meets three times a year: Sacramento, Davis and Concord.
Saul-Gershenz, a graduate student in the Neal Williams lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and a co-founder of SaveNature.Org, researches a solitary ground-nesting bee, Habropoda pallida and its nest parasite, a blister beetle, Meloe franciscanus, found in the Mojave National Preserve.
The meeting begins at 9:15 a.m. with coffee and registration for club members and their guests. The remainder of the meeting will be devoted to the future of the society, with president Bob Dowell of the California Department of Food and Agriculture moderating the discussion.
Saul-Gershenz is the lead author of “Blister Beetle Nest Parasites Cooperate to Mimic the Sex Pheromone of the Solitary Bee Habropoda pallida (Hymenoptera: Apidae)," co-authored by professor Jocelyn G. Millar and staff research associate J. Steven McElfresh, both of UC Riverside. The peer-reviewed research was published in the April 2012 edition of the Mojave National Preserve Science News.
The bee's emergence is generally synchronized with the onset of blooms of the Borrego milkvetch, which is the sole host plant of adults of the blister beetle at Kelso Dunes.
The UC Davis ecologist said the larvae of the parasitic blister beetle produce a chemical cue or a pheromone similar to that of a female solitary bee to lure males to the larval aggregation. The larvae attach to the male bee and then transfer to the female during mating. The end result: the larvae wind up in the nest of a female bee, where they eat the nest provisions and likely the host egg.
The work of Saul-Gershenz, Millar and McElfresh appears in a newly published academic book, Sensory Ecology, Behaviour, and Evolution (Oxford University Press) by Martin Stevens. Another book, pending publication in December, also will contain their work: the second edition of Pheromones and Animal Behaviour (Cambridge University) by Tristram Wyatt.
Previously, three other books summarized their research:
- Keeping the Bees: Why All Bees Are at Risk and What We Can Do to Save Them by Laurence Packer and published in 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers, Ltd.
- Cuticular Hydrocarbons: Biology, Biochemistry and Chemical Ecology by editors A. Bagnères-Urbany and G. Bloomquist and published in 2010 by Cambridge University Press.
- The Other Insect Societies by James T. Costa, and published in 2006 by the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Following her talk, beginning at 10:45 a.m., the Nor Cal Entomology Society members will discuss the future of the organization.
“We have reached a critical juncture in the existence of the organization,” secretary-treasurer Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and a co-founder of the society, wrote to the members in an email. “At its beginning, the society served as the meeting place for entomologists mostly from UC Berkeley and UC Davis, as well as other members who appreciated their lively discussions of research and pest control. Representatives from industry and regulatory establishments also participated. A revolving system of society chairs was instituted and membership was good.”
“Over time, the climate has changed. UC Berkeley no longer has an entomology department or hardly any entomologists anymore.”
Mussen, one of the most active members of the group, will be retiring from the university in June 2014.
Those planning to attend should contact Mussen at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone him at (530) 753-0472 by Nov. 1. The lunch will be catered by Kinder’s Meats./span>